Sri Lanka has recently been declared a Middle Income Country. Public expenditure on the social sector has declined as a percentage of the GDP and this has created widening inequalities. Poverty, therefore, is still a crucial issue, but it needs be understood from a more holistic perspective which considers aspects such as people’s capabilities, private and social assets, leisure (or lack of it), and attainment of social participation and security. However, most media look at poverty from a purely economic perspective – that of a lack of money. A wider understanding on poverty would include democracy, good governance, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom as prerequisites for people to realize their full capabilities. In addition to the limited understanding of poverty, most media houses allocate little or no budget for field-based and investigative journalistic assignments on poverty related topics.
With the Media Fellowships on Poverty and Development, the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) hopes to tackle this gap.
The fellowships are meant to enhance the skills of fifteen (15) competitively selected journalists by giving them a better understanding of the many dimensions of poverty, and providing them with guidance to cover unrevealed or under-reported aspects of poverty. Winners of the fellowships will benefit from face-to-face interactions with senior journalists and development researchers, and receive a grant to cover their field visit costs. They will have the opportunity to study a story of their choice in depth and detail, but on the understanding that their media outlet will carry their story.
This manual is prepared as part of the fellowship process. It is not an information dossier on poverty in Sri Lanka, but an exploration of how poverty can be covered meaningfully in our media.
This is aimed primarily at mid-career media professionals in print, broadcast or web journalism. It is presumed that they have had training and/or experience in the craft of journalism – this only adds a layer on top on how to find and tell good stories on poverty, under-development and inequality.
Sri Lankan think-tank promoting a better understanding of poverty-related development issues. CEPA believes that poverty is an injustice that should be overcome and that overcoming poverty involves changing policies and practices nationally and internationally, as well as working with people in poverty.
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